What does your hair mean to you?
While we may lament about our hairs ability to curl up at the first sign of muggy weather or it’s tendency to fall out of any hairstyle, our hair is a huge part of our identity. It shapes what we look like, how we feel about ourselves and how we act, so losing it can be a devastating side effect of battling cancer.
Zoe, 42, from Manchester, lost her hair while going through cancer treatment:
“One of the things which really upset me was the idea of losing my hair. My hair was part of my identity. I had always had long hair down to my waist and the idea of not having it really upset me. It sounds vain, but the image side of things really did get to me. “I was feeling really bad about myself at times – my looks have basically completely gone. I sounds really conceited, but I actually used to consider myself to be an attractive woman and I would care about how I dressed and things and feel good about myself. That was all taken away. I lost my hair, my nails were horrible, I lost a breast and then I put on weight with the chemo but was ill looking. I would forget how bad I looked and then be shocked when I caught sight of myself in a mirror.”
In support of people like Zoe, Macmillan Cancer Support are this August, asking men and women to shave their heads in solidarity with those who are suffering from the disease as a part of their Brave the Shave campaign. Statistically, we will all know someone who has been affected by cancer throughout our lifetime. There are over 2.5million people living in the UK with cancer today and by the end of 2016, more than a thousand people will be diagnosed with cancer every single day in the UK according to Macmillan
These inspiring and beautiful women (regardless of hairstyle) took the shearers to their locks last year, here are their reasons:
Lucia, 30, from St Albans
Lucia works for Macmillan and was so inspired by the people she met in her role that she wanted to do something to fundraise for the charity. She has experienced a long-term health problem herself and knows how it can be a very isolating experience. Her health problems mean she can’t take part in physical fundraising challenges so she decided to Brave the Shave because she believes that nobody should face cancer alone.
Kirstie, 22 from Sussex
Kirstie shaved her long, pink hair to raise money for Macmillan after her best friend was supported by the charity when she was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 18.
Louise, 29, from North Tyneside
“When I was two years old I lost my mother to cancer; she was only 35. Her cancer was extremely aggressive and spread very quickly. From what I have been told by relatives, the Macmillan nurses who supported her did a fantastic job and became like family.
I have always had long, ginger, curly hair and it was something I have been recognised for so when I’ve talked about shaving it before, other people have always talked me out of it.”
Recently my friend, Mandy, was diagnosed with cancer and she said the thing that scared her most about her cancer treatment was losing her hair. I wanted to do something to support her through it and show her that she wasn’t alone. It was the push I needed to finally do this. I shaved my head nine months ago and like it so much I have decided to keep my head shaved.”
Beth, 23 from Essex
“I wanted to do something to raise money for Macmillan after a close friend benefitted from the work of the charity. My friend, Rob, has received support since the most recent operation on his growing brain tumours.
Rob and I met at university but the operation on his tumours meant that he had to return home to be supported. He has a lot of care needs and spends a lot of time at home, which can be terribly isolating. However, he now attends a Macmillan support group which has been a huge help to him.
It is so important for somebody in his situation to have a support network and somebody to speak to so I wanted to raise money for Macmillan to help the charity continue this work. It’s now eight months since the shave and my hair is growing back, slowly. I actually preferred it in the beginning because it was so low maintenance. I think I’ll wait until I find a style I’m happy with and leave it at that.”
Nicole, 22 from Essex
“My nanna was the biggest influence in my life, she was the kindest lady I’ve ever met. When she was diagnosed with cancer, she was given around six months to live. She exceeded all of the doctors’ expectations and lived another 3 and a half years after her initial diagnosis.
“She had spent 20 years working on a family tree book and when she was diagnosed with cancer she was worried she wouldn’t finish it. My family rallied around to help her complete the story and as I work as a bookbinder, I had it professionally printed and bound. My nanna passed away just 10 minutes after seeing her treasured project printed and bound.
“My nanna and the whole family was supported by Macmillan during her treatment so I wanted to do something to give back to the charity. I wanted to do something that would really push me outside my comfort zone so I decided to shave my head. My husband did it with me to support me and we held the shave at a local pub. We raised almost £1,000 between us.”
If you’re interested in taking part, you can find out more information at the Brave the Shave website, here.